Set Up New Hires for Success at Your Dental Practice

July 11, 2017 Sheri Kay RDH

One pattern I’ve noticed lately in calls with my clients is that many dentists and their teams are frustrated about training new hires. Adding a unique personality to an already cohesive group can seem like mixing oil and water at first. When a new team member is brought into your dental practice, there needs to a consistent plan in place to avoid or manage problems as they arise.

 Starting the Conversation on Training New Hires

The frustration I’ve come across is consistently based on new hires not catching on, not doing things the ‘right way,’ and not doing things as fast as dentists would like. The seasoned team members are irritated and everyone is annoyed by the amount of work it takes to train.

One of the conversations I have with my doctors is about understanding the difference between exposing a new team member to a task or philosophy and having them actually learn it in the way they are most suited to. I ask:

  1. At what point would you say they’ve started to have a certain level of competency where they can do the task?
  2. At what point would you say this team member has mastered what it is you want them to do?

The hope is that you bring a team member on board, they watch what’s going on, you show them a few times, and they will automatically and miraculously have a high level of mastery. But this is not the case for most people.

Pay Attention to Individual Learning Styles

There are many different learning styles that can affect how a person takes in and processes information. Some people want to read about it, some need to watch it five times, and others have more hesitation about how fast they get it.

Acknowledging different learning styles is a huge component to successful individualized training. You have to understand how different people will become effective and learn what you want them to.

3 Steps of Dental Practice New Hiring Training

I like to look at the training process as a continuum:

  1. What was the first exposure and have they been exposed to how you actually want to have the task done?
  2. What will it take for them to have a measurable level of competency? Is there a training checklist in place? Who is responsible for helping this team member learn?
  3. What would it look like if and when they ever attain a level of mastery to the point where they could be responsible for teaching another person?

Bonus Tip: Most people really struggle with only oral types of instruction. Having things in writing and experiential learning are both helpful.

Most importantly, it’s crucial to enact the basic training continuum: exposure, competency, and mastery.

You have to have an actionable plan and you need to know who is accountable for it. If you’ve been unsuccessfully training a new team member, this process has a high level of predictable success, assuming you’ve hired well to start with.


What tasks do you find new hires struggle with the most in your dental practice? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!


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About Author

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Sheri Kay RDH

Sheri Kay started her career in dentistry as a dental assistant for an “under one roof” practice in 1980. The years quickly flew by as Sheri worked her way from one position to the next learning everything possible about the different opportunities and roles available in an office. As much as she loved dentistry … something was always missing. In 1994, after Sheri graduated from hygiene school, her entire world changed when she was introduced to the Pankey Philosophy of Care. What came next for Sheri was an intense desire to help other dental professionals learn how they could positively influence the health and profitability of their own practices. By 2012, Sheri was working full time as a Dental Practice Coach and has since worked with over 300 practices across the country. Owning SKY Dental Practice Dental Coaching is more of a lifestyle than a job, as Sheri thrives on the strong relationships that she develops with her clients. She enjoys speaking at state meetings, facilitating with Study Clubs and of course, coaching with her practices.

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